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A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography


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Laeghaire (2) ( Lagerie , phonetically Leary ), pagan monarch of Ireland, reigning at Tara in the county of Meath. In the fifth year of his reign St. Patrick, having spent the winter in the counties of Down and Antrim, in the spring determined to hold his Easter festival near Laeghaire's palace. The monarch, surrounded by his nobles and his Druid priests, saw with wonder and rage the distant light of the Christian paschal fire which was to quench the lights of heathendom, and rode over in force to Ferta-fer-Feic to expel the intruder. But mollified by the stranger's address, or frightened by his words of power, he allowed the Christian mission to be established. We can hardly believe that he continued a persecutor while such progress was made in the spread of the Gospel around him and in his own family. His queen may perhaps have become a Christian; his two daughters, Fedhelm the ruddy and Eithne the fair, were certainly converted and numbered among the saints. Several of his descendants (Reeves, St. Adamnan , 173) are beatified.

He probably died a pagan. The Four Masters give the date as 458, but 463 is more likely ( Ann. Tig., eo an. , ap. O'Conor, Rer. Hib. Script. iv. 111). He reigned probably 35 years. His body was carried to and buried at Tara, in the S.E. side of the external rampart, with his weapons upon him, and his face turned towards the Lagenians, as if still fighting against them. Vitae S. Patricii , ap. Colgan, Tr. Thaum. pass.; Lanigan, Ch. Hist. Ir. i. c. 5; Moore, Hist. Ir. i. c. 10; O'Hanlon, Ir. Saints , i. 163 seq.; Nennius, Hist. c. 59, ap. Mon. Hist. Brit. pt. ii. 72; Keating, Gen. Hist. Ir. B. ii. pp. 325 seq.; Four Mast. by O'Donovan, i. 144–145 n. g; Wills, Ill. Ir. i. 60; Skene, Celt. Scot. ii. 100 seq. 428 seq.; Todd, St. Patrick , 6 seq.; Joyce, Irish Names of Places , d ser. 230–231.


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Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Laeghaire'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. 1911.

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